Sunday, 16 November 2014

Graham Tomlin’s New Book on Priesthood

Over the years, I’ve come to believe that humans made in the image of God aren’t merely stewards of creation but priests. I’ve come to believe this largely because I accept that Genesis 1 portrays creation as a temple, which means that humanity functions as the priest-idol in the temple of the world. But the idea that humanity is creation’s priest also resonates with other biblical ideas about the purpose of priesthood – to mediate between God and others primarily for the others’ blessings.

Graham Tomlin, Dean of St Mellitus College and the Principal of St Paul’s Theological Centre, has just published The Widening Circle: Priesthood as God’s Way of Blessing the World (London: SPCK, 2014). Here’s the blurb from Church House Bookshop’s website:

The Widening Circle outlines a new approach to priesthood, suggesting that we only begin to understand what a ‘priest’ is once we have understood what priesthood is theologically and biblically – God’s way of blessing the world. The key ideas of the book are (1) that Christ is the ‘true High Priest’ – he is therefore our clue to understanding the nature of priesthood; (2) that the priestly ministry of Christ consists of two parts – MEDIATION (mediating God to us and us to God) and ENABLING (enabling us and all of creation to reach its divine destiny, to be a true reflection of the glory of God); and (3) that priesthood is therefore the way God blesses the world, by choosing a part to be the means of blessing the whole. He chooses humanity to care for and bless the earth, Israel as a priestly nation to bless the world, and the church as his means of blessing the rest of humanity.

This looks to be an interesting and potentially important book. And judging by the blurb and the contents page (which can be accessed through Amazon), this isn’t a book solely for the clergy. I’m hoping to wangle a review copy; watch this space!

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